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Python Basics

Python is a high-level, general-purpose programming language that is widely used for web development, data analysis, artificial intelligence, and scientific computing. Some key reasons for Python's popularity:

  • Easy to learn - Python has a simple, readable syntax that is easy for beginners to pick up. Concepts like variables, loops and functions are intuitive.

  • Versatile - Python can be used for a wide range of applications from simple scripts to large applications. Popular frameworks like Django (web dev) and NumPy (scientific computing) are written in Python.

  • Interpreted language - Python code is executed line-by-line by an interpreter rather than compiled. This allows for quicker development times.

  • Dynamically typed - Variables in Python don't need explicit declaration to reserve memory space. The interpreter handles memory allocation in the background.

  • Large community - Python has a huge community of users contributing packages and documentation. If you need help, resources are plentiful online.

Now let's understand some key programming concepts we'll cover related to Python:

Variables are like containers that store values in a program. Consider them as boxes that you can store data in and use later. For example, you can store the number 5 in a variable named x. Later, you can print out the value of x or perform operations using it.

Data types refer to the kinds of values that can be stored in variables. Python has built-in data types like numbers (integers, floats), strings, booleans, lists and dictionaries. The interpreter handles type checking and conversions behind the scenes.

Conditionals allow you to execute different code blocks based on checking logical conditions. It's like saying "If it is sunny today, then I'll go to the park. Otherwise, I'll stay home." Conditionals provide control flow in programs.

Loops allow you to repeat the same block of code multiple times. This is useful for iterating over sequences like lists or performing repetitive tasks. Loops save time by automating repetitive tasks.

Functions are reusable blocks of code that can be called whenever needed. They allow code to be organized into logical and reusable chunks. Functions promote modularity and abstraction in programs.

We'll explore how these concepts work in Python through examples. Python makes it easy to start coding right away without too much overhead. With some basic building blocks, you can start writing programs to automate tasks or process data. Let's jump in!

Variables in Python

Variables are a way to store data in Python so you can refer to it later. Think of variables like containers or boxes that hold a value. For example, you can create a variable named my_name and store your name as its value:

my_name = "John" 

This assigns the string "John" to the variable my_name. Now whenever you use my_name in your code, Python will substitute it with "John".

Some key points about variables in Python:

  • Assignment - The = sign is used for assignment. It assigns the value on the right to the variable name on the left.

  • Dynamic typing - Variables do not have an explicit type attached to them. The Python interpreter determines the type based on the value assigned.

  • Case-sensitive - Variable names are case-sensitive. my_name and My_Name would be different variables.

  • Naming rules - Variable names can only contain letters, numbers and underscores. They cannot start with a number.

Let's look at a simple example:

name = "John"
age = 25 

This will print out:


We created two variables name and age, assigned values to them, and printed them out. Note that we don't need to specify the type while declaring the variables. Python handles that automatically.

Variables can be reassigned to different values later in code:

count = 10
print(count) # Prints 10

count = 20
print(count) # Prints 20

Here count was initially 10 but we reassigned it to 20 later.

Variables make it easy to reuse values without having to retype them:

first_name = "John"
last_name = "Doe"

full_name = first_name + " " + last_name
print(full_name) # Prints John Doe

We can also use variables in operations like addition, multiplication, etc:

apples = 5
oranges = 3

fruits = apples + oranges
print(fruits) # Prints 8

Some naming conventions for Python variables:

  • Use lowercase with underscores for multiple words (e.g. my_name)
  • Avoid using Python keywords (e.g. print) as variable names
  • Use meaningful names that describe the value (e.g. student_count vs x)

Overall, variables are fundamental building blocks in Python. They allow you to store data, reuse values easily, and write cleaner and more readable code. As you start writing your own Python programs, you'll find variables to be an indispensable part of coding.

Conditional Statements

Conditional statements allow you to control the flow of a Python program based on checking logical conditions. The main conditional in Python is the if statement.

The basic syntax is:

if condition:
   # execute this code block

This checks if the condition evaluates to True. If so, it executes the code inside the if block. Let's look at a simple example:

age = 20

if age >= 18:
   print("You are eligible to vote")

Here we check if age is greater than or equal to 18. If so, we print a message that the person can vote. The condition after the if statement must resolve to either True or False.

We can add an else block to execute code if the condition is False:

age = 16

if age >= 18:
   print("You can vote") 
   print("You cannot vote yet")

Now if age is less than 18, the else block will print a different message.

The elif statement allows you to check multiple conditions:

age = 25

if age < 18:
   print("Ineligible to vote")
elif age == 18:
   print("Now you can vote!") 
   print("Eligible to vote")

This will check each condition in order and execute the first block that evaluates to True.

We can also nest conditionals inside each other:

age = 20 
student = True

if age >= 18:
   print("Eligible to vote")
   if student:
      print("Remember to register as a student voter")

The nested if statement is only checked if the outer if condition passes.

Some key points about conditionals in Python:

  • Use if, elif, else to control program flow based on conditions
  • Conditions evaluate to True/False based on the values involved
  • Multiple elif blocks allow checking many conditions
  • Nest if statements for more complex logic
  • Indentation is crucial - this indicates the blocks of code to execute

Conditionals are a very powerful construct that allow you to write dynamic programs that make decisions and adapt based on different situations. As you program more complex scripts in Python, you'll rely heavily on if/else statements to build the logic.

Here is a recap of conditionals:

  • Use if to check a condition and execute code if True
  • else provides an alternate block if if is False
  • elif allows multiple conditions to be checked
  • Nest if statements for more advanced logic
  • Proper indentation is important when using conditionals

By mastering conditionals like if, elif and else, you can write Python programs that intelligently make decisions and execute different paths based on any conditions you want to check.

Loops in Python

Loops allow you to repeat a block of code multiple times in Python. This is useful when you need to iterate over a collection of items or perform a task repeatedly. Python has two main loop constructs - the for loop and the while loop.

The for loop is used to iterate over a sequence like a list, tuple, or string:

fruits = ["apple", "banana", "cherry"]

for fruit in fruits:

This will print out each fruit on a separate line:


The for loop goes through each item in the fruits list and executes the code block once for each item.

We can also loop through a string:

for letter in "Coglayer":

This will print out each letter of the word Coglayer on a new line.

The range() function can be used with for to iterate over a sequence of numbers:

for i in range(5):

This will print out the numbers 0 through 4.

Inside the loop, we can use continue to skip to the next iteration:

for i in range(10):
  if i % 2 == 0: 

This will print only the odd numbers. When i is even, it skips to the next iteration.

We can use break to exit the loop entirely:

for i in range(10):
  if i == 5:

This will print 0 up to 4, then stop when i reaches 5.

The while loop runs as long as a condition is True:

count = 0
while count < 5:
  count += 1 

This will print the numbers 0 through 4. count starts at 0, and the loop runs until count reaches 5. count += 1 increments count by 1 each iteration.

while loops are useful when you don't know ahead of time how many iterations you need.

We can combine while and break when we want a loop to run until some condition is met:

while True:
  user_input = input("Type 'exit' to quit: ")
  if user_input == 'exit':

This will keep asking for user input until they type 'exit'.

Some key points about loops in Python:

  • for loops iterate over sequences like lists or strings
  • while loops run as long as a condition is True
  • range() can be used with for to iterate over numbers
  • break exits the loop, continue skips to next iteration
  • Loops can be nested inside other loops
  • Indentation indicates the block of code to loop over

Here's a quick recap of loops in Python:

  • Use for loops to iterate over sequences like lists and strings
  • while loops execute a block of code repeatedly as long as a condition is True
  • break can be used to exit a loop, continue skips an iteration
  • range() can generate a sequence of numbers to loop over
  • Nest loops and use pass to build more complex programs

Loops allow you to automate and repeat tasks efficiently and elegantly in Python. They are an essential tool for programmers and you'll find yourself using them constantly in your scripts. Mastering for and while loops is key to unlocking the real power of Python for automation and data processing.